Toni Mould, who will compete for the South African team at the UCI Para-Cycling Road World Cup in Italy this week, hopes to add a world cup medal to her collection.
“I have SA medals and silver from world champs in 2017, but not a world cup medal,” Mould said.
“It will be really difficult to get one here as we are only three competitors, which means there are only two medals up for grabs.
“In the second world cup in Belgium we are only two, which means there’s only one medal to win, but anything can happen on the day.”
Mould will compete in the time trial on Friday and road race on Saturday in Corridonia. Next weekend she will be at the start line for the time trial on Thursday and road race on Saturday in Ostend.
“My goals are just to do my best. My competitors are a lot stronger and faster than me, so I basically try to improve my times and average speed every time I race.
“I’ve recently received new splints to cycle with, so this will also be my first competitive races with these.”
She said it was difficult to plan her strategy beforehand as she mostly cycled by herself.
“The other are so much faster and also I can’t cycle the route prior to the race because I can only go on closed roads and they’re not closing the route beforehand.
“We’re going to drive it and then I will know more. Driving or cycling the route is crucial for para-riders because we have so much to consider, such as a lack of balance and coordination.”
She added that if it was cold on race day it would have a physical effect as she had cerebral palsy.
“When I’m cold I’m more spastic and my muscles tense up, so adjusting to the weather over the next few days will be key.
“I was also sick three weeks ago and am still coughing quite a bit, so I’m not sure how I will perform.”
Mould added that she lost a few weeks in January and February when her father was sick and passed away.
“It feels like every time I get into a training rhythm this year it gets broken due to circumstances beyond my control.
“I know I have done my best and will do my best on race day. That’s all I can do.”
This was her fifth year as part of the national team and Mould felt each year was a different experience.
“Last year was my first trip overseas and we didn’t travel as a team or have a team manager or mechanic. This year we’re travelling as a team and have support, so it’s very nice.
“The para-cyclists are a close-knit group, so although we come from different areas and only see each other once or twice a year we have a good sense of community and get along well when we’re together.”
Mould said they were in Italy last year, but in a different area, so it was “absolutely great” to be back and see a different area.
“I’ve always wanted to visit Italy since I was a young girl, so to see the country twice is a privilege.”